Coast to Coast is my bi-weekly column here at Fansided. Each week I’ll be taking a look at an interesting topic in the NBA, and giving my own spin on it. Feel free to disagree, because you most likely will anyways.
When the New York Knicks signed Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, and Kurt Thomas last off-season, they were mocked by many for their age, and no one believed in that roster. Well, they started out the season hot, and Mike Woodson looked like the Coach of the Year. They were an offense that moved the ball well, and they set a record for most three pointers made in a season. Carmelo Anthony looked as if he had left all the problems he had in Denver behind, and that team finished 54-28, and was the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
Coming into this season, they returned a lot of their core, and they had even added a few pieces. Although they gave up a first round pick for him, Andrea Bargnani could have helped them in theory, and Metta World Peace could help them on the wing defensively. So with the same core, a few more pieces, and another year together, the Knicks should be around the 50 win mark again this year right?
The Knicks are a lousy 3-13, and things couldn’t get any uglier than they are now. They have serious problems on the defensive end, and with Tyson Chandler out with a broken leg, it won’t be getting much better for them. Chandler played only 4 games this season, but when he was on the floor (26.5 minutes per game), the Knicks posted a defensive rating of 92.2 (points per 100 possessions). Now, since he’s been injured, the Knicks have given up 107.5 points per 100 possessions, which is worst in the league. If I told you that a team is relying on Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire for interior defense, it will most likely induce serious vomiting.
So once Tyson Chandler comes back, all things should be rosy in New York again, right? Not quite. The Knicks have serious problems on offense as well. They are only scoring 99 points per 100 possessions, which is 23rd in the league. The lowly Nets are scoring better than that. They are very stagnant on offense, averaging just 19.5 assists per game, which is 24th in the league. Also, the three pointer–which was their bread and butter last season–isn’t falling. They are 28th in the league in three point percentage at 32.2%, and are attempting over 21 per game. The Knicks have a lot of issues on offense, too.
So what’s next for the Knicks?
Conventional wisdom would tell you to blow the whole thing up, make trades, and fire the coach. I think Knicks’ owner James Dolan deserves some credit here. He has made some poor decisions in the past, but he is being patient in this situation. Patience is something that is seriously lacking in sports in today’s society, and to see a team handle adversity with patience is actually refreshing. If they fire Mike Woodson, then what? They could hire a guy like Lionel Hollins, and that would be a bonus, but if they can’t get a big name, then I don’t think an interim coach would do much better. If I were the Knicks, I would try and trade for some energy guys who can play defense, or look for some shooters who could help get this offense going. Their only tradeable asset is Iman Shumpert, and at this point, it may be smart to move him.
When Tyson Chandler comes back, they will be better on defense, and guys should be able to slide into their natural roles. Truth is, Bargnani is actually a decent post defender, but to ask him to protect the rim is foolish. Chandler can handle those duties, and a better defense could mean a better offense. The Eastern Conference is an absolute dumpster fire this season, so they could make the playoffs with a bad record. To give up on a season after 16 games is foolish, so I like the patience that Dolan has showed.
Ultimately, the Knicks need to play with some passion, and get the ball moving. I would trade Iman Shumpert for some interior defensive help or a “3 and D” guy, and they need to get Chandler back as soon as possible. They could very well end up with 32 wins this season, but this team did win 54 games last season, so that is unlikely. The Knicks play their next 11 games against teams that are under .500, and this could be a big stretch for them. If they can go 8-3 or 7-4, that would put them back in the thick of the race, and if they get healthy, they could find themselves right back in it.
At this point, the Knicks are bad, but it is early. They could very well be a disaster all season, but I think we need to all take a page out of James Dolan’s book and be patient. Their problems seem to be easily diagnosed, and hopefully for them they can be easily fixed.